After a celebratory evening on National Geographic Resolution, we awoke to calm waters and sunshine. The ship transited through the Gerlache Strait and entered the Lemaire Channel around 10:00 a.m. We brunched and relaxed on deck, taking in views of the icebergs littering the narrow waterway. We spotted several seals on the ice as we rounded the corner to the Penola Strait and Pleneau Island, our proposed landing for the approaching evening.
After an early dinner, the expedition team launched the Zodiacs and headed out to set up our first landing on Pleneau Island. Pleneau is a low-lying island named after Paul Pleneau, director of a steamship company and longtime companion and supporter of Jean Baptist Charcot in the early 1900s.
We joined the expedition team to explore the small gentoo penguin colony and climb to the top of the hill to enjoy towering vistas of the peninsula and Booth Island. We observed several molting adolescent elephant seals, along with nesting skuas, kelp gulls, and blue-eyed shags. Whilst half of us were ashore, others were out Zodiac cruising. Guests explored the “iceberg graveyard” and the waters around the backside of the island. A large group of Weddell seals were found on the fast ice on the northwest side of Pleneau.
Upon returning to the ship, the hotel team greeted us with refreshments and warm conversation. In the evening light, we spotted humpbacks and minke whales off the stern of the ship as we sailed ever deeper south towards the Antarctic Circle proper.